Learning from Others: Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design, IA, and

Report
LEARNING FROM OTHERS: TOP 10
MISTAKES IN WEB DESIGN,
INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE, AND
APPLICATION DESIGN
Josephine M. Giaimo, MS
March 14th, 2014
WHAT WE’LL DISCUSS TODAY

Top 10 mistakes in design in EACH of the
following categories:
Web Design;
 Information Architecture;
 Application Design.

ABOUT ME




User Advocate
User Experience
Researcher/Strategist
Clients/employers have
included AT&T, Lucent,
Avaya, IITRI, NJIT,
Sarnoff, Proctor &
Gamble, Smirnoff, Y&R,
etc.
Recently performed UX
research on peer-to-peer
networks and time
banking for NSF at
Xerox PARC
A BIG THANK YOU!
To Jakob Nielsen,
Ph.D.
 User Advocate,
Researcher
 Co-founder, Nielsen
Norman Group
 Described as the
“Guru of Web Page
Usability” (New York
Times)

TOP 10 MISTAKES IN WEB
DESIGN
Data collected in 2011 by Jakob Nielsen, et al.
1. BAD SEARCH
Search engines that
are overly literal
 Can’t handle typos
 Search engines that
prioritize on number
of query terms instead
of importance
 Simple search works
best

For example:
No results for
“youcrane”;
No results for
“Ukrane”;
No results for
“Ucrane”;
Oh, forget it. Let’s
just search “Russia.”
2. PDF FILES FOR ONLINE READING
Users report hating
PDFs which break
flow
 With PDFs, standard
browser commands
don’t work
 A blob difficult to
navigate
 Reserve it for manuals
 Convert the rest to a
browse-able Web page

3. NOT CHANGING THE COLOR OF VISITED
LINKS
Helps reader grasp
site navigation
 Prevents
unintentional
revisiting of same
page over and over
 Standard

Unvisited: blue
 Visited: violet

4. TEXT THAT CANNOT BE SCANNED (BY A
HUMAN BEING)

Write for online, not print,
using



Subheads
Bulleted lists
Highlighted keywords




Short paragraphs
Inverted pyramid
Simple writing style
De-fluffed language, devoid
of marketese
5. FIXED FONT SIZE
CSS style sheets
empower websites to
disable the browser's
“change font size”
button
 Let users resize text,
and respect their
preferences
 Specify font size not
as absolute number of
pixels, but in relative
terms

6. PAGE TITLES WITH LOW SEARCH
ENGINE VISIBILITY
Page title is contained
within HTML <title>
tag
 Page title is default
entry when users
bookmark a site
 Start title with most
salient, informationcarrying words

7. ANYTHING THAT LOOKS
LIKE A ADVERTISEMENT
Users have selective
attention
 Users ignore legit
design elements if
they look like ads

Banner blindness
 Animation
 Pop-up purges

8. VIOLATING DESIGN CONVENTIONS
When you break the
users’ expectations,
they will feel insecure
 Jakob’s Law of the
Web User Experience:
“users spend most of
their time on other
websites.”
 When you deviate,
your users will leave

9. OPENING NEW BROWSER WINDOWS
Do not pollute the
user’s screen with
more windows
 Taking over the user’s
machine sends a userhostile message
 Misbehaving links
undermine users’
understanding of their
own system

10. NOT ANSWERING USERS’ QUESTIONS
Users are goal-driven
 If you are not specific,
users will assume
your product/service
does not meet their
needs
 Do you avoid listing
the price of
products/services?

TOP 10 INFORMATION
ARCHITECTURE (IA) MISTAKES
Structure is the invisible way the site is
structured. Navigation is the visible way the site
is structured. Both need to work together.
1. NO STRUCTURE
One big swamp search
 Commonly found on

News sites
 Catalog-based ecommerce sites


Users leave these
sites quickly, and
there is no wonder as
to why
2. SEARCH AND STRUCTURE NOT
INTEGRATED
Users exhibit searchdominant behaviors
 When a user searches
and finds a target,
does your site help the
user learn the
structure of the site?
 What is user’s current
location?

3. MISSING CATEGORY LANDING PAGES

Does your site have a series of categories that each
link to their own landing pages?
4. EXTREME POLYHIERARCHY
Too many
classification options
 Can become a crutch
 Too many structured
dimensions
 Results in low
confidence early in the
site experience,
thwarting later
experiences

5. SUBSITES/MICROSITES POORLY
INTEGRATED WITH MAIN SITE

Subsites must be integrated within the overall site
structure
6. INVISIBLE NAVIGATION OPTIONS
If a user cannot see
the feature, it may as
well not exist
 Make navigation
permanently visible
on the page
 Minesweeping
(passing the mouse to
see what is hidden)

Children like it
 Teenagers don’t
 Adults hate it

7. UNCONTROLLABLE NAVIGATION
ELEMENTS

Things that
bounce/move detract
from usability
Overly sensitive
rollovers
 Elements that move,
spin, or rotate of their
own accord

8. INCONSISTENT NAVIGATION
Is it a puzzle?
 Do options come and
go?
 Global navigation’s
persistence serves a
key purpose—a
beacon to help users
understand where
they are and how they
can get back to the top
of the site if lost.

9. TOO MANY NAVIGATION TECHNIQUES
Nielsen identified 25
different website
navigation techniques
 Each has pros/cons
 If you use all of them,
you get a mess!

10. MADE-UP MENU OPTIONS




Make up their own terminology for labels and other navigation choices
Less dominant than it used to be
Hurts search
Old words are better
TOP 10 APPLICATION DESIGN
MISTAKES
Worst mistakes are domain-specific, solving the
wrong problem, having the wrong features, or
making the right features too complicated.
1. NON-STANDARD GUI CONTROLS

May include






Command links
Radio buttons
Checkboxes
Scrollbars
Close boxes, etc.
“Users have several
thousand times more
experience with
standard GUI controls
than with any
individual new
design.”—Jakob Nielsen
2. INCONSISTENCY


When an application uses different words or commands for the
same thing, confusion results.
What happens in Expedia when you want to book a trip that
starts on March 10 and ends on March 15?
3. NO PERCEIVED AFFORDANCE
“Affordance” means
what you can do to an
object
 Users don’t have time
for a minesweeping
game
 Symptoms

Users say, “What do I
do here?”
 Users miss features
 Verbose explanations

4. NO FEEDBACK
Show current state
 Tell users how their
commands have been
interpreted
 Tell users what’s
happening
 Don’t keep them
guessing

5. BAD ERROR MESSAGES
The guidelines for
error messages have
been around for
nearly 30 years
 Explain how and why
the user can fix the
problem
 Use error message as
a teachable moment

6. ASKING FOR THE SAME INFO TWICE

Computers are pretty
good at remembering
data!
7. NO DEFAULT VALUES

Defaults
Speed up the
interaction
 Free user from having
to specify a value
 Teach by example
 Direct novice users
towards a safe or
common outcome

8. DUMPING USERS INTO THE APP
Users don’t have a
pre-conceived
conception of how
something works
 Provide a setup to
give them an idea of
what’s going to
happen
 Tell them what you
are going to tell them

9. NOT INDICATING HOW INFO WILL BE
USED
Asking users to enter
info without telling
them what you’ll use
it for
 Use of the nickname
field for bulletin board
applications


Users don’t know the
purpose and enter
something
inappropriate
10. SYSTEM-CENTRIC FEATURES

Do you offer features
that reflect the
system’s view of data,
or the user’s
understanding of the
problem space?

Reallocation of savings
about various
investments

Confusion re existing
investments vs. future
investments
BONUS MISTAKE: RESET BUTTON ON WEB
FORMS

Almost always wrong
to have a Reset button
on a Web form

Clear’s the user’s
entire input, and
returns the form to its
pristine state


Facebook ad
application, 2014
Destroys user’s work
in a single click!
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Josephine M. Giaimo
 [email protected]
 @giaimojosephine
 123 Johnson Street, Highland
Park, NJ 08904
 (732) 448-0021, (732) 501-6312


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